Black out, Speak out

Fraser vs Pembina, part 2: Funding

Funding Highlights [added May 31]:

Both the Fraser Institute and the Pembina Institute have some reliance on foreign funding (about 15%). Both organizations rely on foundations for more than half their funding; Fraser enjoys more corporate support, while Pembina has more funding and research contracts from government and other NGOs. In general, Pembina is much more transparent concerning individual funding sources than Fraser.

Nevertheless, this investigation reveals that the oil and gas industry funding plays a much bigger role in the Fraser Institute’s budget than previously realized. Previously unreported cumulative funding from Encana stands at about $1 million; founding CEO Gwyn Morgan gave an additional $1 million, for a total of $2 million. Other important donors have included the Koch brothers ($523,000) and Exxon-Mobil ($120,000), along with significant but unreported regular donations by an unidentified Canadian Koch subsidiary and Exxon-Mobil subsidiary Imperial Oil. There is also circumstantial evidence pointing to support by Keystone XL proponent TransCanada and oil sands operator Canadian Natural Resources. Meanwhile, Pembina has transparently reported support from Suncor (and formerly TransCanada).

This is the second in an ongoing series comparing and contrasting two prominent Canadian think tanks, namely the libertarian and Conservative-friendly Fraser Institute and the environmentally focused Pembina Institute. This follows Part 1, Introduction and Background; subsequent sections cover Funding Transparency, Research Quality, Political Dimensions and Conclusions & Recommendations.

SECTION 2: FUNDING

  1. Summary of Findings
  2. Breakdown of Funding Sources
  3. Foreign Funding
  4. Oil and Gas Company Funding
    1. Encana & Gwyn Morgan
    2. Koch brothers (Koch International)
    3. TransCanada Corporation
    4. ExxonMobil & Imperial Oil
    5. Canadian Natural Resources
    6. Suncor
  5. Conclusion


A  FUNDING – SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Funding Breakdown: Fraser has a little more than double the revenue of Pembina ($10.8 M vs $4.8 M).  Both Fraser (54%) and Pembina (77%) derive more than half their donation revenue from foundations. Fraser also relies considerably more on the corporate sector for donations than Pembina (34% vs 7%). However, Pembina derives half its income from consulting fees, mainly with corporations, as well as other non-profits and governments, thus implying a higher corporate share of Pembina’s overall revenues.

Foreign Funding: Fraser and Pembina appear to have a similar level of foreign funding, about one-sixth of total revenue, based on 2010 tax returns and annual reports.

Oil and Gas company funding: Specific corporate or foundation sponsors, whether foreign or Canadian, are harder to identify in the case of the Fraser Institute, whose lack of transparency stands in sharp contrast to the openness of Pembina.

Nevertheless, Fraser’s major oil and gas company sponsor can now be identified for the first time. Canadian oil and gas giant Encana  has donated about $1 million to Fraser’s coffers since 2002, along with an additional $1 million gift from Encana’s founding CEO (and early Harper suporter) Gwyn Morgan, for a combined total of about $2 million.

U.S. based Koch foundations and are in second place and rising fast, having donated a total of $500,000 from 2007 to 2010. In addition, there were regular undisclosed contributions from an unnamed Koch Canadian subsidiary “years and years” before that.

Other oil industry companies associated with Fraser are ExxonMobil, ExxonMobil subsidiary Imperial Oil, and Keystone XL lead proponent TransCanada Corporation (also a former supporter  of the Pembina Institute). ExxonMobil donated $120,000 in 2003-2004. The amount and timing of Imperial contributions to Fraser remain unknown. There is strong circumstantial evidence of TransCanada support for Fraser, but no direct evidence or admission of funding, let alone amounts or timing.

The following table summarizes current knowledge of oil and gas industry funding of the Fraser Institute.

Company/Foundation_________ 2010__ Cumulative__
Encana__________________ Morgan-Trottier Foundation Encana/Gwyn Morgan Total $75,000 * N/A___ ______ $1,073,286 * $1,000,000 $2,073,286
Koch Foundations ____________ Koch Cdn. subsidiaries $150,000 None $523,221 Unreported
Exxon-Mobil_______________ Imperial Oil None Unreported $120,000 Unreported
TransCanada Corporation ** TBD TBD
Canadian Natural Resources ** TBD TBD

* Previously undisclosed Encana support given in response to author inquiries.
** Circumstantial evidence for support, without official confirmation as yet.

Suncor Energy, now Canada’s largest oil and gas company, is a long time supporter of Pembina, donating in five figures most years, as well as contracting for various consultant services.

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Fraser vs Pembina, part 1: Introduction and Background

This is the first in a series comparing and contrasting two prominent Canadian think tanks, namely the Fraser Institute and the Pembina Institute. The projected table of contents is given below with the current Introduction and Background section highlighted and broken down into sub-sections. Links to subsequent sections will be enabled as they become available.

  1. INTRODUCTION and BACKGROUND 
    1. Introduction
    2. Background
    3. Sources
  2. Funding
  3. Funding Transparency
  4. Research Quality
  5. Political Influence
  6. Conclusion and Recommendations

[Note: Since this page is primarily intended as background and reference material for those readers less familiar with Fraser and Pembina, comments have been disabled.]

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Open Thread, May 2012

Many of you no doubt noticed that there have been no new posts in some time; in fact, there was not a single post in April. Let me assure you that May will be different, starting with a brand new open thread.

To get the ball rolling, here are a few stories that caught my eye recently.

Wiley cover-up: Complete Wegman and Said “redo” hides plagiarism and errors

I had thought the saga of climate science critic Edward Wegman and the various allegations of misconduct in his recent work could not possibly get any more bizarre, especially in the wake of manifestly contradictory findings in two recently concluded investigations at George Mason University.

But in a shocking new development,  it turns out that two problematic overview articles by Wegman and his protege and congressional report co-author Yasmin Said in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Statistics (WIREs CS), have been completely revised. Those revisions saw the  removal or rewriting of  massive swathes of copy-and-paste scholarship, as well as correction of many errors identified by myself and others. In each case, the comprehensive revisions came “at the request of the Editors-in-Chief and the Publisher”, following complaints to Wiley alleging wholesale plagiarism. But Wegman and Said also happen to be two of the three chief editors of WIREs CompStat, thus raising compelling concerns of conflict of interest, to say the least.

In fact, it is very clear that Wiley’s own process for handling misconduct cases was egregiously abused in favour of a face-saving “redo” manoeuvre. And this latest episode raises disturbing new questions about the role of the third WIREs CS editor-in-chief (and “hockey stick” congressional report co-author) David Scott, and indeed Wiley management itself, in enabling the serial misconduct of Wegman and Said.

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Tom Harris, Heartland and the 2007 Bali open letter to the U.N.

Tom Harris

There has been renewed scrutiny of climate contrarian PR specialist Tom Harris in the wake of a highly critical report on a controversial course Harris taught at Carleton University, most recently in 2011. Much of the current interest in Harris has naturally focused on his involvement with the Heartland Institute, itself very much in the news following the leak of detailed budget and fundraising plans (accompanied by a suspect two-page strategy memo).

Today I’ll take a close look at the beginning of the Harris-Heartland connection in 2007, based on Heartland’s publicly available 2007 tax declaration and December 2007 press releases, as well as the illuminating full recorded interview of Harris by Suzanne Goldberg of the Guardian. Taken together, these provide compelling evidence that Heartland funded Tom Harris’s Natural Resource Stewardship Project right around the time that Harris was organizing the Bali contrarian petition attacking climate science, part of a broader attempt by Heartland to disrupt the December 2007 UNFCCC conference.

National Post financial editor Terence Corcoran essentially provided Harris the sole (but very powerful) PR channel for the petition, while hiding Harris’s involvement, a fact that the Post has never publicly acknowledged to this day. Now that it turns out that the effort was likely funded by the Heartland Institute, the Post’s credibility has been compromised even further.

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Open Thread, March-April 2012

Some possible topics that have come up in other threads:

1) CASS has issued a critique of Tom Harris‘s Carleton University climate change course (press release and full report), detailing “142 erroneous and fully-quoted claims”. This was covered by the Guardian (Suzanne Goldenberg), Post Media (Mike de Souza) and CBC. [h/t Holly Stick]

2) The Virginia Supreme Court has shot down Ken Cuccinelli’s CID fishing expedition seeking a broad swathe of material from Michael Mann’s time at University of Virginia. [The NCSE account and analysis of this development is now online - h/t Snapple]. Presumably, the focus will now be on the American Tradition Institute’s abusive efforts to get their hands on all of Mann’s UVa emails (as I recall they already have been given those they were entitled to). [h/t Rattus Norvegicus]

3) James Annan weighs in on Peter Gleick (and adds more in comments, expressing doubts about Gleick’s story concerning the Climate Strategy document. ).[h/t Gryposaurus with some replies as well (but that thread is really, really long now).]

Or anything else that comes up …